Seattle, Wash. - (Feb. 27, 2009) CHRISTOPHER G. BROOKS, 39, of Bellevue, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 84 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $2,491,956 in restitution for Conspiracy to commit Wire Fraud. BROOKS and his wife Amani Moss were arrested in July 2008, following a lengthy mortgage fraud scheme where they used straw buyers to purchase homes for a price above the homes’ actual value. The homeowners agreed to accept the inflated price, while returning the excess to a company that was controlled by BROOKS. BROOKS obtained more than $27 million in fraudulent loans on 54 different transactions.
At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted the impact of BROOKS’ scheme and those of others like him saying, “one institution involved here has filed for bankruptcy, two are no longer in business, several others of the 15 banks or financial institutions that were identified as victims in this particular case have had to substantially reduce their workforce as a result of the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry. Is Mr. Brooks alone responsible for that? No, of course not. But his actions, his behavior, along with many others that jumped on this particular band wagon to commit fraud, set in motion this chain reaction of economic and financial adversity that spread not only throughout our entire country but to global financial markets as well.”
According to records filed in the case, between January 2005, and May 2007, while working as mortgage brokers, BROOKS created and licensed a business called Peachtree Development. Working with other co-conspirators, BROOKS identified properties where the seller would be willing to overstate the sales price, with the difference between the true sales price and the overstated price going to Peachtree Development. BROOKS and his wife Amani Moss would recruit straw buyers who had good credit to “purchase” the homes at the inflated price. The straw buyers would be paid $7,000 to $10,000. BROOKS would prepare false mortgage loan documents on behalf of the straw buyers and submit them to the lenders falsifying the straw buyers’ income and employment. The lenders made inflated loans to the straw buyers, the home seller was paid off, with the excess going to Peachtree Development. Ultimately, the straw buyers would default on the loans, leaving the lenders with significant losses.
In asking for a significant prison sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Frierson said BROOKS engaged in a “wide ranging fraud scheme that affected dozens of financial institutions.” Ms. Frierson noted that BROOKS attempted to keep the fraud going even while he was released pending trial. Judge Martinez agreed a significant sentence was warranted saying BROOKS’ twenty year criminal history of driving offenses and other misdemeanors indicate he is someone “who does not believe the rules apply to him.”
BROOKS told the court that he knew from the beginning that what he was doing was fraud and he apologized to the community and his family, pledging to repay the $2.4 million in restitution ordered by the court.
Amani Moss is scheduled to be sentenced May 8, 2009.
The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Katheryn Kim Frierson and Darwin Roberts.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.
SOURCE: United State Department of Justice -- Western District of Washington